The Department of Health is frantically trying to magic up as many as 10,000 posts for those who fail to achieve posts within the specialist training stream.
The BMJ understands that the big teaching hospitals are being asked to identify temporary positions that can be made available from August for doctors unsuccessful in obtaining ST3 and ST4 posts.
As many as 10,000 such posts may be needed it the figures from the BMA are anything to go by. These posts would be ‘staff’ positions – in other words, they would not be on the career structure towards a consultant post.
The news comes as junior doctors begin to hear the outcome of their first round interviews. It is still unclear how many posts will be held back for the second round. Unless deaneries have deliberately decided not to fill a certain proportion of posts, this could leave some unsuccessful applicants doctors with very limited options at round 2.
Trust personnel officers are seizing the opportunity to create additional posts — which are to be centrally funded to avoid the political embarrassment of having doctors unemployed.
One internal memo seen by the BMJ says that these staff posts will chiefly be equivalent to ST3 and ST4 level and will be for one or two years initially. They would, it says, offer the potential to transfer into a career grade post at a later stage.
Staff are being asked to identify posts which either they had educational approval for but could not fund, or where they could take on an additional trainee without it affecting the training of existing career grade staff.
Funding these additional posts at £30,000 per year each could cost the government as much as £300m in the first year alone.
However a spokesperson for Modernising Medical Careers questioned the 10,000 figure, stating that many of those who failed to get specialist training posts were already working in staff grade jobs in the NHS, so would not be unemployed.
But the true figure has still to be confirmed. NHS Employers refused to comment, passing the matter onto the Department of Health. It is understood a statement is due to be made early next week about the outcome of the first round of interviews.
Meanwhile a group of consultants, led by Professor Morris Brown of Cambridge University, has written to his colleagues nationwide, alerting them to the growing concern among both consultants and junior doctors at the MTAS interviews.
Professor Brown has carried out an on-line poll of 3500 doctors, which showed that 81% of 813 Consultants and 85% of 2422 Juniors who replied wanted a consultant boycott. He also suggests delaying the 1 August start date for the new specialist training posts.
“In our poll,” he writes, “80% of both seniorities would like doctors to stay in their current post. The main downside is a delayed start for the new FY1s, who should be compensated; but at least they have a future ahead of them, whilst 10,000 FY2s and SHOs unsuccessful in their single MTAS interview face a permanent end to their career in hospital medicine.”
TO go to the poll questionnaire, visit www.cai.cam.ac.uk/people/mjb14/
See also a rapid response from Professor Brown at: www.bmj.com/cgi/eletters/334/7601/0?ck=nck#165660